It was a sure-fire bet that Keith from Catterick would be able to find a new career with help from the WHP JETS employability scheme, after spending more than 20 years as a racecourse builder.
 
Aged 44, Keith had worked at many prestigious racecourses around the country and had progressed with the same company to become an invaluable member of the construction team. Part of his role involved building safety barriers to protect the horses and spectators during the races.
 
“I loved my former job,” commented Keith. “I lived for my work and was regularly completing 70-plus hour weeks. I was happy and well rewarded, but everything horse racing related was closed when the pandemic began to spread.
 
“I decided I wanted to work in a different sector that would not be so affected by outside events. In the past, the horse racing world has also been badly hit by the spread of Foot and Mouth.”
 
Keith was referred to the Job Entry Targeted Support (JETS) programme, a separate strand of the Work and Health Programme (WHP). It is delivered in the North East by Ingeus UK on behalf of Reed in Partnership. It is commissioned and financed by the Department for Work and Pensions and is deemed as match funded for the European Social Fund.
 
“I really needed JETS help,” admitted Keith. “Since I had worked for so long for the same company, I had no CV, I didn’t know how to put together a covering letter and I hadn’t done an interview in more than two decades.”
 
His Ingeus employment advisor, Rachael Crossfield, spent time considering Keith’s range of skills and began suggesting other possible careers. A firm favourite with Keith was the thought of working in the security industry and he completed the Security Industry Authority’s qualification to be able to find work in the sector.
 
“Rachael was just fantastic and so helpful,” recalled Keith. “I felt that she took the time to understand me and what I wanted to achieve. I was with the programme for two months and it was great to know that I had someone who was so encouraging and understood what I needed to progress.”
 
After completing a series of mock interview sessions, Keith was successful and is now employed as a security guard at a COVID-19 testing centre.
 
“I want to continue working in this industry and I will look for opportunities in airport security when my present role finishes,” concludes Keith. “My career path has changed, and I wouldn’t have been able to progress without the help of JETS.”